Regardless of where you live in the world, if you’re a fan of black metal you will be familiar with Immortal. April just gone announced the return of Immortal as we found out their ninth album ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ will be released on July 6th via Nuclear Blast! Unfortunately the nine years that filled the void between ‘All Shall Fall’ and ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ wasn’t the smoothest time for Demonaz and Horgh, considering there was a battle with Abbath that took place over the rights to the Immortal name.
With all that behind him, Demonaz was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to discuss the approaching July 6th release of ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ and the journey along the way. Opening the interview, Demonaz proudly talked about the positive buzz surrounding Immortal’s ninth album, stating “we’ve been getting a lot of really good feedback and reactions already! We had a listening session for journalists two months ago and they had great things to say when we spoke afterwards. We’ve also been getting a lot of good feedback from other journalists we’ve spoken to since, so I’m very excited!”
Considering that Immortal’s career spans a reunion and unfortunately recent legal battles, this interviewer was curious as to why Demonaz felt now was the right time to release a new album; quickly quipping “it’d been a long time since ‘All Shall Fall’ and Abbath, Horgh and myself thought it was time to start writing a follow-up.” He then went into greater detail:
“We were writing material before we had a conflict in 2015 that resulted in Abbath not only leaving the band, but also taking the new material with him; that meant we had to start writing from scratch again. It took us about a year to write all the songs again, before heading into the studio the beginning of 2017. We had everything finished and recorded by December but then had to wait again for multiple reasons; the first reason was for the mixing and the second was because Nuclear Blast postponed the release date whilst we waited for the artwork.”
Touching deeper on the conflict with Abbath, Demonaz expressed “I never gave up on this band! Abbath was trying to take over legal ownership of the name and thankfully he lost; it wasn’t a big thing with a lot of lawyers, but it was still stressful and time consuming,” before giving a very personal insight into how it inspired him:
“When we started to write the songs, I spoke to Horgh and we decided to focus on the music again, instead of having problems or disagreements; this also stems back to the disagreement in 2002 or 2003. We bought the band back together after that break in 2003 but we just couldn’t get back into the groove, as it felt like we lost something along the way. What I wanted to do with Northern Chaos Gods was create that full strength album, revitalizing that energy and mindset we had to make the kind of music we did back in 1993-1995! We were overdue to make something powerful that we could really stand behind; I thought we had to bring the best elements of everything to this album, just to prove we are still here and are the same band! We just wanted to feel alive and let the fans know that this is the real Immortal.”
With the departure of Abbath, Demonaz was required to step up and perform vocal duties for the first time since ‘Blizzard Beasts’ (1997); when asked how it felt stepping back into this role, Demonaz was quick to explain “it felt really natural because I’ve always done the composing for the band, as well as writing the lyrics. When Abbath left back in 2015, I took over the vocals and it felt natural to sing the lyrics I’ve always been writing. When you write lyrics, you normally write the melody for how it’s going to be sung…you can’t just give somebody a plain text sheet and expect them to know how to sing it! When I wrote lyrics for Abbath, I would always give him the idea of how to sing it as well so I’m used to it; the only difference now is that I’m using my own voice.”
Touching further on how things felt natural stepping back into vocal duties, Demonaz gave a very personal insight into how his mind works and how it benefited the album creation process:
“I think it’s important to stay true to who you are at the core. Unlike other bands, we never experiment with orchestras, female vocals or keyboards as an example; I still believe in the same formula from 1993-97 or whenever where we would come up with songs that were bass, guitar, drums and vocals. That was the basic realm for Immortal and that’s the same recipe we’ve tried to use this time around! I don’t think there’s another way for me to do it, which has resulted in an honest album that’s come straight from the guts. When I wrote every riff or had ideas for the songs, I never thought about experimenting; I thought it would be better to channel the energy we do have into finding that spirit and creating fast, furious music that has that true Immortal feeling. I want the fans to get into the music and keep it going, as that’s why they’ve listened to us from the start!”
Unfortunately things got worse for Immortal as Apollyon decided to leave during the creation process of ‘Northern Chaos Gods’; however that did open the window for long-time producer Peter Tägtgren (Pain/Hypocrisy) to lay down session bass! Speaking about how that opportunity arose, Demonaz explained “after all the songs were recorded, we made a pre-production on which I played bass for all the songs; we sent the tapes to Peter and he offered to play bass once he heard them. I thought it was a good idea because he’s a brilliant musician, he’s our producer and he’s come up with ideas – predominately for bass – on every album he’s worked on. He sent back some tracks with him playing bass on it and I thought he plays better than me (laughs). I tend to play more guitar oriented bass, whereas he plays a variety which creates really powerful sound. You’ll hear that this album is a lot more sensual than it has been in a long time and we really didn’t expect it to be this good!
Demonaz than delivered another great insight into the creation of ‘Northern Chaos Gods’, detailing ‘when Peter, Horgh and myself spoke about the sound, I wanted this album to be led by the old guitar sounds from earlier times; plus we wanted the drums to be really dark and big, but without much to say! We had to find a nice balance because if we wanted to sound raw like we did in ‘95, we’d have to go record in a garage (laughs). I really think that he created the vibe in the right way, as some of these songs really needed that heavy sound from back in that era; he was able to take it up a level and it could be powerful.”
With the departure of Apollyon from Immortal, have they thought about finding a replacement so they can get out on the road and perform live? Demonaz replied “we’ve taken this step by step,” before going into greater depths:
“We were hoping to be finished with promotion a long time ago, but due to promo tours and then with interviews for Northern Chaos Gods, it’s taken a lot longer than we’d hoped! We’ve got a small upcoming period of signing sessions and travelling involved before we can look at getting to the rehearsal stage; the plan is to get there after the summer and start to plan for the live situation. Instead of saying yes to the festivals that already approached us or jumping on a tour for the album, we put it on hold because we need to figure out the new members and how we’re going to bring this up. We want to make sure we do it properly like we did with the album, we have to be systematic and not make any mistakes on the way!”
Drawing the interview to a close, the interviewer was curious if fans would get to experience another single from “Northern Chaos Gods” before July 6th; Demonaz professionally responded “that’s all internal plans of course (laughs). Unfortunately that’s a difficult question as I can’t answer it, but make sure to keep your eyes out just in case something does pop up online before the release of ‘‘Northern Chaos Gods”!”
PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF ‘NORTHERN CHAOS GODS’ HERE!